Some officials of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the northern part of the country have underscored the importance of the media, especially local-based radio stations, in effectively engaging the citizens in local development and local governance.
They, however, expressed worry that they could not maximise the potential of local-based radio stations as effective platforms for information disclosure and citizens’ engagement.
These came to light at a stakeholder evaluation meeting on ‘Promoting information disclosure and citizens’ participation in local governance processes’, organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Tamale.
The meeting brought together chief executive officers, public relations officers, information officers and district co-ordinating directors, representatives of radio stations and community based organisations, to reflect on ways of enhancing local governance.
It formed part of the MFWA’s project,with the theme, ‘Promoting participatory and accountable local governance through professional media and community dialogues in Northern Ghana,’and implemented with funding support from the Canadian High Commission in Ghana.
As part of the programme, radio shows dubbed “Time with the Assembly” were produced by about 40 local radio stations to help the assemblies to educate the people on their programmes and to enable them to ask questions on development challenges in their area.
The Programme Manager for Media, Democracy and Development of MFWA, Abigail Larbi Odei, said the objective of the programme was to create a platform for assembly members to tell their constituents what was going on in their localities, ask questions about developments so that the assembly officials could respond, and be more accountable to the people of their stewardship.
“It is refreshing that we are beginning to see the usefulness of these governance dialogue platforms as evidenced in the feedback from radio stations, local assemblies and stakeholders at this evaluation meeting and hope that such platforms would be sustained,” she said.
Some of the participants said that the regular platforms created on local-based radio stations helped to educate the public on the work of the assemblies, the budget cycle, sources of funding and expenditure, medium term development plans among others.
“The local governance radio programmes help to gauge community concerns and consider the necessary options for addressing them. People now appreciate us better,” Mustapha Ahmed, the Public Relations Officer of the Savelegu-Nanton Municipal Assembly said.
Andrews Mensah, the District Coordinating Director of the West Mamprusi Assembly, said “the concept is very good. It helped to clear misconception about the assembly. Our people now have a better understanding of the assembly’s budget cycle, issues of project rollover and financial management within the assembly.
By Times Reporter